Here's Why the 15 Days of Darkness Rumor Is a Hoax

Wednesday, 11 November 2015 - 1:11PM
NASA
Astrophysics
Wednesday, 11 November 2015 - 1:11PM
Here's Why the 15 Days of Darkness Rumor Is a Hoax
Every once in a while, a ridiculous apocalyptic rumor hits the internet, like the 2012 Mayan calendar doomsday predictions or recent reports that a huge asteroid would lay waste to an area around Puerto Rico. The most recent rumor involves Earth being plunged into complete darkness for a full 15 days starting on November 15, and while it would make for an interesting premise for a sci-fi book/movie, it's a load of horsesh*t. 

The rumor seems to have originated on the fake news site NewsWatch33, who claim:

Opening quote
Astronomers from NASA have indicated that the world will remain in complete darkness starting on Sunday, November 15, 2015 at 3 a.m. and will end on Monday, November 30, 2015 at 4:15 p.m. According to officials, the "November Black Out" event will be caused by another astronomical event between Venus and Jupiter.
Closing quote

First red flag: there has been no such confirmation from NASA. There was, in fact, a recent Venus Jupiter conjunction, and NASA has reported on that astronomical event, but there is no mention of a blackout anywhere on their website. 

But still, the rumor has taken social media by storm, with many actually taking it seriously:








Putting aside the fact that NASA hasn't confirmed these reports, the rumor itself is fairly ridiculous. The report claims that the Venus-Jupiter conjunction will "heat up Jupiter" causing some kind of "reaction" that releases hydrogen, which will then heat the sun's surface. This is already implausible, as the conjunction only makes Venus and Jupiter appear very close from an earthly perspective. They are still 775 million km away from each other, which is far too distant for Venus to raise Jupiter's temperature. 

But then it gets really crazy:

Opening quote
The sun will then attempt to cease the explosions by emitting heat from its core. The heat will cause the Sun to dim to a bluish color. Once the sun reaches the bluish color, it will take approximately 14 days to restore its normal surface temperature, returning its normal color to the Red Giant.
Closing quote

Putting aside for a second that a sentient Sun that can "attempt" anything would be much more terrifying than a 15-day blackout (not to mention another good premise for a sci-fi movie), this makes no sense. First, the Sun isn't a red giant, it's a yellow dwarf, so there's that. Plus, the Sun would only become blue if it doubled its surface temperature. Not only would this make the Sun brighter, not dimmer, but it would make Earth uninhabitable. As far as we know, NASA doesn't anticipate that happening anytime soon.

Via Slate.
Science
Space
NASA
Astrophysics

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